Tawakkal in Allāh
By Ayub A. Hamid
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. There is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger
Tawakkal means trust or dependence. It is putting our matters in absolute trust in Allāh Subhānahu Wa Ta‘ala (Tawakkal ‘Alallāh). Tawakkal is a fundamental part of the Islamic Aqīdah; an attribute that results from a true faith (īman) in Allāh in one’s endeavor and the Hereafter and continual remembrance of both.
Criterion of Tawakkal ‘Alallāh
- “Whoever trusts in Allāh (Tawakkal A’lallāh), He is sufficient for him” (At-Talāq, 65:3)
- “Say: Nothing will happen to us except what Allāh has decreed for us: He is our Protector: And on Allāh let the believers put their trust.” (At-Tawbah, 9:51)
- “And put they trust on the exalted in Might, the Merciful.” (Ash-Shuara, 26:217)
- “…Then when thou hast taken a decision put they trust in Allāh. For Allāh loves those who put their trust (in Him)” (Al-‘Imran, 3:159)
- “If Allāh helps you, none can overcome you: If He forsakes you, who is there after that, which can help you? In Allāh then, let the Believers put their trust.”(Al-‘Imran, 3: 160)
The Muslims are enjoin to rely wholly and exclusively in Allāh in their lives as Allāh alone, is the Best Creator, who controls the Universe and both good and bad is by His decree: “....Glory be to Allāh, the best Creator.” (Al-Mu’minun, 23:14); Allāh is the All-Powerful (Al-‘Aziz) and He is able to do all things (‘ala kull shai‘in qadir). Thus, we should always accept the omnipotence of Allāh.
Our actions and the material resources available to us do not guarantee the outcome of any of our undertakings. Our material and physical strength may deceive us into believing that victory in our endeavors is inevitable. The truth is that our strength or weakness has no bearing on the outcome of the battle, and it is only by the will of Allāh that we become victorious or get defeated by the enemy. It was this firm belief that leads a handful of earlier Muslims during and after the time of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) to defy valiantly against a formidable enemy over and over again.
As Muslim, the actions that we take fall into three categories: They are either obligated upon us by Allāh, recommended by Him or we are simply allowed to do them. The obligatory actions are taken because Allāh has ordered them as compulsory. The recommended actions are taken to be rewarded in addition to the rewards we get upon accomplishing the fardhu. In both of these cases we seek to please Allāh alone. Actions falling under the third category are taken to achieve certain objectives we anticipate to fulfil. However, the certainty of accomplishing those objectives is not under our control. Therefore the cause of initiating any action is not whether we control its outcome; it is the anticipated goal we aim to achieve.
Tawakkal is an attribute that results from a true Faith in Allāh and the hereafter and continual remembrance of both. It is an attitude that emanates from the conviction that:
Allāh has put us in this world temporarily for a test and all of our good and bad circumstances are part of the test.
- The test is about our performance in given circumstances, not about how good or bad our circumstances are. Regardless of what circumstances we encountered, the test is about how well we exhaust all our efforts in achieving the objective of the Deen of Allāh has prescribed for us for His pleasure.
- Our success depends on the quality (in terms of relevance, wisdom, propriety, tactics, strategy and sincerity) and quantity we put in, not on the material results they appear to produce, regardless of what kind of good or bad circumstances we happen to encounter.
- Whatever Allāh has commanded us to do and the objectives He wants us to achieve are the best things for us in this world and in the hereafter. Our duty is to continue steadfastly on the job Allāh has assigned to us utilizing every tool humanly possible and doing our earnest best, without worrying about the results, but instead leaving the results totally to Allāh.
- The real success is attaining the pleasure of Allāh, not the results in this world. Whether our efforts bear any visible result in this world or not, we must continue on our course steadfastly.
- Whatever hardships, test, trials and sufferings we endure during my servitude to Him are all part of His plan for our ultimate success. Enduring them with contentment without a word of complaint or without being disheartened in any way is a part of our job as His slave that we are doing for His pleasure.
These convictions produce a winning state of mind and a believer feels that because we truly believe in Allāh and doing what He wants us to do, He is with us, watching us, and accepting our efforts; and He is not going to let our endeavours go in vain, let us fail or leave us unsupported. No one can do anything to us that are not part of His plan for us as His servants. Regardless of what transpires in this world, the ultimate success is ours, as long as we are truly committed to Him. If we keep the right attitude, we will be successful:
Suhaib narrated Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, "How wonderful it is for a believer that he always ends up with goodness: If he suffers and remains steadfast, it is rewarding; if good things happen and he thanks Allāh that is also rewarding." (Recorded by Muslim)
It is a totally liberating, very empowering state of mind that a true believer attains because of the trust and reliance on the power, authority, help and support of Allāh and because of the contentment he feels in serving Allāh without being concerned about the results that Allāh provides for his untiring efforts. This kind of resolute trust and reliance on Allāh provides such a tranquility to one’s heart, such a courage in one’s psyche and such a resilience in one’s nature that a believer cannot be scared, pressured into giving up, made to compromise, compelled to give in, bought out of his Islamic mission, or forced into submission by any enemy, tyrant, power or authority.
For those who have Tawakkal, Allāh says: “Whoever relies in Allāh (Tawakkal ‘Alallāh), He is sufficient for him” (At-Talāq, 65:3)
Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiallāhu ‘anhu) reported that Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said to him: O boy! I will teach you words, so learn them: “Be mindful of Allāh and He will protect you, be mindful of Allāh and He will be on your side. If you ask, ask Allāh, and if you seek help, seek it from Allāh. Know that if the Ummah gather their strength to bring you benefit, they will never bring you benefit, except that which Allāh has decreed for you. Know that if they gather their strength to harm you, they will never harm you, except with that which Allāh has decreed against you. The pens have been raised and the pages are dry.”(Recorded by Imam Ahmad; At-Tirmidzi and said: Hasan Sahih.)
Thus, Tawakkal is a natural corollary of true faith and is one of the evidences (Shahādah) of faith. A person with true faith will always rely on Allāh (Tawakkal ‘Alallāh). Lack of Tawakkal indicates lack of true faith. This was true for previous Ummah's as it is for us:
“The believers are only those who: when Allāh is mentioned, their hearts become fearful; when His verses are recited to them, they increase their faith; and only on their Lord they rely (have Tawakkal).” (Al-Anfāl, 8:2)
When Mūsa ‘alayhissalām invited Bani Israel to enter Palestine, they refused to do so, being scared of the strength of the enemy. Two of the believers endowed with true faith spoke up and said,
“Enter upon them through the gate, for when you enter it, you will be the dominant. And rely upon Allāh (have Tawakkal), if you are believers” (Al-Mā'idah, 5:23)
But no one believed in Mūsa except the offspring (youth) of his people, because of the fear of Fir’aun and his establishment that they would persecute them; and indeed, Fir’aun was arrogant in the land and indeed, he was of the transgressors.
And Mūsa said, “O my people, if you have believed in Allāh, then rely on Him (have Tawakkal in Him), if you are Muslims.” So they said, “Upon Allāh do we rely (have Tawakkal). Our Lord! Do not make us (object of) trial (persecution) of the unjust (wrongdoers). And save us by Your mercy from the disbelievers.” (Yūnus, 10:83-85)
As is evident from the verses, Tawakkal is closely related to the untiring struggle that a Muslim undertakes to achieve both the personal and collective goals of the Deen -- Iqāmah of Deen in personal life to achieve personal excellence as a Muslim and in collective life to achieve the establishment and dominance of the Islamic system of peace and justice.
Clearing the Misconception
There is a misconception among some of us. A popular notion that earning provides the rizq and Tawakkal in Allāh should come after one has made a sincere effort to earn a living.
In a Hadith narrated by Anas bin Mālik (radhiallāhu‘anhu): A person asked, “Should I tie my camel and have Tawakkal (trust in Allāh for her protection) or should I leave her untied and have Tawakkal.” Rasūlullāh, (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) replied, “Tie her and then have Tawakkal.” (Recorded by At-Tirmidzi)
The Hadith conveys an important lesson: That while trust in Allāh is absolute being independent of what we do, it is our responsibility to act on what we intended to accomplish. In this case tying the camel was a right thing to do if the person feared that the camel would run away. Therefore he should have taken the precaution as well as trusting in Allāh. Tying the camel does not means to take away from his trust in Allāh, irrespective of the efforts and the circumstances surrounding us.
This belief should help us in our life according to the commands of Allāh even if we face hardships in doing so. Disappointment, hopelessness should not deter us as we have put our trust in Allāh Subhānahu wa ta‘ala, our Creator and the only Sustainer.
Many Muslims indulge in the prohibited actions arguing that it is the only alternative; otherwise they would face disastrous consequences. The avid example is giving riba when buying a house on a mortgage. They regard owning a house as a necessity and we are willing to sacrifice Islam in doing so. They fail to realise that it is only Allāh who provides security for them and their off springs and they need only to put their absolute trust in Him.
Unfortunately the materialistic thought that we have acquired from the Kuffar who depend on material gains for their very survival, has drastically influenced our view towards this life as well. We take pride in our wealth and what we do, and have displaced the trust in Allāh by relying on material possessions
Personal struggle and Tawakkal
As Allāh Says: “Indeed, there is no authority for him (Shaytān) over those who believe and rely upon their Lord (Tawakkal).” (An-Nahl, 16:99)
If Shaytān tries to sow doubts in the mind of a believer, a believer with Tawakkal is protected by Allāh:
‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Aas (radhiallāhu ‘anhu) narrated Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “The human mind keeps wandering and branching away into different valleys. If someone follows his mind in all those wanderings, Allāh does not care which valley ruins that person. On the other hand, whoever has Tawakkal in Allāh, He will be sufficient to save him from those wanderings” (Recorded by Ibn Mājah)
A person without Tawakkal will fall prey to many un-Islamic practices in the face of adversity that a true believer with Tawakkal on Allāh will avoid at every cost. Those who have Tawakkal will be appropriately rewarded in the Hereafter.
Ibn ‘Abbās (radhiallāhu ‘anhu) narrated Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “Seventy thousand of my Ummah will enter Jannah without reckoning. They will be those who did not seek cure through mantras, who did not take omens and who had Tawakkal in their Lord.” (Recorded by Bukhari and Muslim)
Tawakkal in the Islamic effort
A person with Tawakkal on Allāh will bravely, unflinchingly and steadfastly continue working for Islamic objectives regardless of the impediments, threats and hardships encountered. When Nūh `alayhissalām was rebuked and threatened, this is how he responded:
“And recite to them the news of Nūh when he said to his people: O my people, if my stay (among you) and my reminding (you) Ayāt of Allāh is hard on you, then I have put my Tawakkal (trust) in Allāh So devise your plan and (call upon) your Shurakā (any entity equated with Allāh) and let not your plan be obscure to you. Then carry it out upon me and do not give me respite.” (Yūnus, 10:71)
During resistance from his people, the Messenger Hood ‘alayhissalām said to them: “I put my Tawakkal in (I rely on) Allāh, my Lord and your Lord. There is not a creature but He holds its forelock (controls it).” (Hood, 11:56)
Prophet Shu’aib ‘alayhissalām said to his people:
“I do not want to do the things from which I stop you. I only desire reform as much as I am able. My potential and inclination is only through Allāh, upon Him I rely (in him I have Tawakkal) and to Him I turn.” (Hood, 11:88)
Prophet Ibrāhīm ‘alayhissalām and his people’s struggle and Tawakkal are presented as a model:
Indeed there has been for you an excellent model in Ibrāhīm and those with him, when they said to their people: “Verily we disassociate from you and whatever you worship other than Allāh We have rejected you and there has appeared between us and you animosity and hatred forever until you believe in Allāh alone… Our Lord upon You we have relied (have Tawakkal), to You we have turned and to You is the destination. Our Lord, do not make us (object of) persecution for the disbelievers, and forgive us, our Lord. Indeed, only You are the All-Mighty, the Wise.” (Al-Mumtahanah, 60:5-6)
In fact, that has been the way of all prophets, messengers and Islamic workers:
“Their messengers said to them: True, we are human like you, but Allāh bestows His grace on which He pleases of His slaves. It is not for us to bring you a miracle except by Allāh’s permission. And on Allāh should the believers rely (Tawakkal). How should we not rely upon (have Tawakkal in) Allāh when He has indeed guided us in our ways? Certainly we would persevere against the persecution that you may inflict on us. And upon Allāh must the reliant rely (have Tawakkal).” (Ibrāhīm, 14:11-12)
For our Ummah
Allāh Subhānahu wa ta’ala said, “Thus have We sent you to a community, before whom other communities have passed away, in order that you recite to them what We have revealed to you, but they disbelieve in the Most Gracious. Say: He is my Lord; there is no deity except Him; upon Him I rely (in Him I have Tawakkal) and to him is my return in repentance.” (Ar-Ra’d 13:30)
When commenting on Uhud, Allāh said, “When two parties among you were about to lose courage, while Allāh was their ally; and upon Allāh must the believers rely (have Tawakkal).” (Al-‘Imrān, 3:122)
“And when you have made a decision, then rely upon Allāh (have Tawakkal). Verily, Allāh loves those who rely on Him. If Allāh helps you, no one can overcome you; but if He forsakes you, who is there who can help you after Him. And upon Allāh must the believers rely (have Tawakkal).” (Al-‘Imrān 3:159-160)
On the Prophet, Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam concern for enemies’ attacks over his marriage to Zainab radhialāhu‘anha on Allāh’s command, Allāh admonished:
“O Prophet! Fear Allāh and do not obey disbelievers or hypocrites, certainly Allāh is All-Knowing, All-Wise; follow what is revealed to you from your Lord, certainly Allāh is fully aware of what you do; and, (have Tawakkal) rely on Allāh, He is sufficient as a Trustee.” (Al-Ahzāb, 33:1-3)
If at any point, a believer feels powerless or hopeless, he should refresh his faith and Tawakkal in Allāh and continue his personal or Islamic struggle with hope and a winning attitude. ‘Awf Bin Mālik (radhiallāhu ‘anhu) narrated Rasūlullāh, Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam said:
“Allāh Ta`āla condemns powerlessness and hopelessness. It is incumbent upon you to take a stand with hope and intelligent resolve. If you are overpowered in a matter, then say, “Sufficient is Allāh for my means and He is the best supporter.”” (Recorded by Abū Dawūd)
Otherwise, a true believer knows that the best of the successes is for him in the hereafter, if he relies only on Allāh:“As for those who emigrated for Allāh after they had been persecuted, We will certainly settle them in this world nicely, but their reward of the Hereafter will be greater, if only they knew. They are those who persevered and relied in their Lord.” (An-Nahl, 16:41-42)
With the degeneration of the Ummah, Tawakkal has taken on wrong connotations. Some may think that Tawakkal is only sitting and doing nothing, hoping that Allāh will provides success. That meaning is from Shaytaan, incorrect, it will make Muslims inactive and indolent. The real Tawakkal, as evidenced by the Ayat quoted above, done with true iman which entails a strong conviction of Allāh’s approval and mercy will be with us in the Islamic struggle that no challenges would be able to dampen our spirit or make us feel defeated or helpless. The life of the Prophet, Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam, was a superb example of Islamic Tawakkal. In every move he made and at every stage of his mission, he used the best tactics and strategies at human disposal, and then fully relied on Allāh without having even a bit of worry of the consequences.
For example, while migrating to Madīnah, he took all the precautions that were humanly possible for his safe departure from Makkah and safe arrival in Madīnah: Planning the migration secretly, leaving when least expected, asking ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (radhiallāhu ‘anhu) to sleep in his bed so that his departure is not noticed, selecting a hiding place on an opposite direction to Madīnah, arranging of survival provisions for three days of hiding and a week of traveling, arranging of a faithful guide, arranging for the camels to be brought only when leaving the hiding place, selection of route least traveled, etc. But once he had done whatever was humanly possible, he had such trust in Allāh that he was never worried about the consequences even when everything seemed to fall apart. It was the remarkable demonstration of his Tawakkal, when enemies reached at the mouth of the Thur cave and Abū Bakar As-Siddiq, (radhiallāhu ‘anhu) became worried, he calmly assured him, “Do not worry, Allāh is with us.”
Even in basic matters of the world, one has to do his best and then leave the results to Allāh.
Anas bin Malik, radhiallāhu‘anhu, narrated: A person asked, “Should I tie my camel and have Tawakkal (trust in Allāh for her protection) or should I leave her untied and have Tawakkal.” Rasūlullāh, Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam replied, “Tie her and then have Tawakkal.” (Recorded by Tirmidzi)
‘Umar Bin Khattāb, radhiallāhu‘anhu, heard Rasūlullāh Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam saying, “If you trust Allāh with right kind of Tawakkal, He will provide you sustenance as He provides for the birds – they go out in the morning with empty stomachs and come back in the evening with full stomachs.” (Recorded by Tirmidzi)
A bird sitting in his nest, praising Allāh will not have his stomach filled. It has to go out to seek food. It is only the one that goes out and does its best to find food, comes back full.
Tawakkal is related to one’s right efforts and results of those efforts for the matters of the human endeavour. A person with right accountability and Tawakkal in Allāh which puts his best possible efforts in what Allāh expects him to do in those matters and he does not worry about its results. He positively, constructively deals with whatever he encounters and continues with full force doing his best regardless of the results or consequences. Another matter closely related to Tawakkal is being content with matters that are beyond our power and influence.
There are many things in our life that are decided for us without our input or approval. The examples are the parents we are born to, our genes that determine many things in our life, our physical features, and the circumstances of the society we are born in or we live in, etc. Muslims who understand that their life is a test and would do the best with whatever they got and whatever situations they have been put in, they are fully content and happy with the circumstances, putting all their efforts and energies in making the best of the situations and making the correct Islamic decisions in those situations.
They know that their personal success is not dependent on circumstances but in doing their best in the given circumstances. If they find themselves in bad circumstances, they work hard to do better, and keep seeking Allāh help, mercy and bounty through Duā’ and Istikhārah to go with their best of the efforts.
On the other hand, the losers concentrate on their circumstances and on the things beyond their control. They neither seek Allāh’s help, mercy and bounty, nor do they take the circumstances as given nor work on performing the best they can in those given situations. They end up being unhappy, miserable complainers always complaining about what they do not have, rather than making the best of what they do have. They end up being the utter losers. This is what was expressed in a Hadith from Sa‘ad, Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “One of the factors that indicate blessedness (Sa‘ādah) of a person is his being pleased with Allāh’s decision for him, while two of the attitudes indicating wretchedness or despondence (Shaqāwah) of a person are: his not seeking goodness from Allāh or his being unhappy about Allāh’s decisions for him.” (Recorded by Ahmad and At-Tirmidzi)
[Excerpted with modification from “Tawakkal” by Ayub A. Hamid in Mission Islam]